TO CHEW ON: "Though the fig tree may not blossom
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail
And the fields yield no food
And there be no herd in the stalls —
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18
What has brought Habakkuk from despair to such faith? We saw, at the beginning of the book, how he was obsessed with the negatives around him. He saw only lack of justice (Habakkuk 1:2-4), evil flourishing (Habakkuk 1:12-13), and the surrounding heathen nations ravishing their neighbours (including Israel) and getting away with it (Habakkuk 1:14-17). How did he get to this declaration of trust in God?
By focusing on the right things.
If we look at what precedes his flag-plant of faith we see that it's a song / prayer of praise which looks at God's strength and lists the ways He has come to Israel's rescue in the past (Habakkuk 3:1-16).
It reminds us of other great prayers of faith. For example, compare Habakkuk 3:3-4 with Moses' blessing in Deuteronomy 33:2. Habakkuk alludes to God's judgment of Egypt and the Israelites (in the desert) with sickness in Habakkuk 3:5. When he says, "The overflowing of the water passed by" (verse 10), we are reminded of the way the Israelites passed through the Red Sea between walls of water as described in Exodus 14:22.
All this remembering, this seeing God in the big brush strokes of history buoys Habakkuk's faith till finally he can say with confidence, No matter what it looks like today and tomorrow, this season or next, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
My Bible's commentary on this verse sums it up well:
"Habakkuk asked genuine questions, waited for God's answers, and accepted them. He put his hope in God and experienced His presence. In faith, he looked beyond his present circumstances to God, placing his hope in God's saving grace and absolute faithfulness. He set his heart and his eyes on God"We can do that too. We can:
PRAYER: Dear God, I have watched Habakkuk move from doubt and fear to faith and confidence in You, even though his circumstances didn't change. Help me to have that reaction to the puzzling things in my life, as I choose to trust You no matter how things look. Amen.
- Understand that it is acceptable to acknowledge the difficulty of our situation.
- Focus our attention on God rather than circumstances.
- Remember our circumstances will change but God remains the same.
- Put hope in God's ability to save us; He is present with us in even the most difficult of times.
- Choose to rejoice in the Lord regardless of the way we feel
(Leslyn Musch, "Truth In Action Through Habakkuk," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1230.)
- Trust that He will enable us to overcome.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.